Recordings from Niger in West Africa are not common, and it is a delight to hear a well-recorded CD by one of the nation's finest traditional musicians. Harouna Goge is a Hausa vocalist who plays a one-string spike fiddle - the goge, from which his surname is derived. The goge belongs to an expansive family of one-string fiddles in northern and sub-Saharan Africa, which include the soku, or nyanyaur, of the Fulani and the naaneeru of the Mandinka. The goge's single string is made from horse-hair whilst the sound box of the instrument is covered with iguana or boa hide. Harouna first began learning the instrument at the age of 11, and played it against his father's wishes, though he himself was also a goge player. The instrument forms an integral part of many important rites, such as spirit possession and invocation ceremonies, baptisms and weddings. Harouna also plays for political parties at election campaigns, much as griots do in nations to the west of Niger. The repertoire covered on this CD includes praise songs to local chiefs, however the bulk of the material consists of spirit invocations numbering 10 tracks in total. The liner notes, which are in French, English and German, are informative and detailed. - Graeme Counsel
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